The tartar formation process is hard at work in your mouth right now. In fact, bacteria are working hard to do it 24/7. This is due to the fact that your bacterial plaque is constantly multiplying and your saliva (which contains minerals) is always flowing. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the tartar formation process. By using the right tools and the best tartar control toothpaste, you can keep tartar to a minimum.
I am going to give you information from a dental hygienist’s view. In my experience, I know what works and what doesn’t and I am here to help you improve your oral health. There are many good reasons to reduce your tartar formation. Some of these reasons are cosmetic which include improving bad breath. Other reasons have more to do with preventing disease in your mouth like gum disease and decay.
No matter what your reason for reducing and preventing tartar, it is easy to accomplish. I want you to know there are simple changes you can make to your existing home care. So, read on and you will be on your way to better dental checkups in no time!
What Is Tartar Anyway?
According to Perio.org, tartar is another name for dental calculus. It is a hardening of dental plaque that is porous and rough. Their explanation of dental plaque is a film that is colorless and sticky that forms on the teeth continuously. Tartar will develop from this plaque if it is not removed daily.
Within your saliva, you have calcium salts that cause the hardening of dental plaque if the plaque is not removed in a timely manner. Crystals that harden into tartar are formed when plaque combines with the salts and other minerals that are present in your saliva.
Studies have shown that it takes as little as 12 hours for bacterial plaque to start forming into tartar if not removed adequately from your teeth. Hence, that is why dental professionals encourage a twice daily brushing and once daily flossing routine. If you are doing a good job of breaking up and removing your plaque every 12 hours, you will reduce tartar formation.
Why You Should Prevent Tartar
Even if you have exceptional home care, you still have bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria will mix with proteins and food by products to form plaque. You already know that this plaque will harden into tartar if you don’t remove it. But what happens if tartar does accumulate? What is the harm in that? A lot, actually, and I will explain why.
According to Wikipedia, once tartar starts to form along and under the gumline, it acts as an area for more bacteria to collect. This tartar ( also referred to as calculus) can be supragingival (above the gumline) or subgingival (below the gumline). Bacteria give off toxins which cause inflammation in your gums. The initial inflammation will cause red, swollen gums that tend to bleed. This is called gingivitis and can be reversed with better plaque control.
If gingivitis continues on, it can cause periodontitis. This is gum disease and is a much more serious issue. According to Mayo Clinic, periodontitis can cause loose teeth and may lead to destruction of the supporting bone of your teeth. This leads to tooth loss. With proper oral hygiene, the chances of preventing or treating this stage of gum disease is improved.
Besides the risk for gum issues, tartar can also contribute to increased stain formation. Tartar has a porous texture so it readily absorbs the pigments of certain foods and drinks in your diet. Coffee, tea and wine are notorious for absorbing into existing tartar making stains appear darker.
The rough texture of tartar makes it an easy place for bacterial plaque to hang out. Not only will this contribute to increased chance of decay (cavities) but it will also increase your chances for bad breath. Bacteria give off products called volatile sulfur compounds. These are smelly gases that can cause a stink. Literally! By controlling bacterial plaque, you will directly decrease tartar formation. This in turn reduces your chance of not only gum disease but also decay, staining and bad breath.
The Best Tartar Control Toothpaste
In my experience as a dental hygienist, I have seen results from people using all kinds of products. There is such a variety of products on the market. I believe most people are somewhat confused on what they should and should not be using. Advertising ads are everywhere about this toothpaste and that toothpaste…all claiming to do everything except brush your teeth for you.
How do you know what to look for? There is a product that dental professionals can agree on and hygienists recommend for the best possible prevention of tartar. This product is Colgate Total Tartar Control toothpaste. I have seen consistent positive results with this product for reducing tartar formation and improving the health of teeth and gums. This is the best recommendation for you if you struggle with controlling and preventing tartar from forming on your teeth.
It is important to note that Colgate Total Tartar Control toothpaste will not remove tartar on your teeth once it has formed. Only your dental hygienist can do that. Learn what to expect when you have a dental cleaning. However, this product will help prevent new tartar from forming on your teeth after it has been removed.
Colgate Total Tartar Control toothpaste combines two active ingredients for an all-over mouth clean. These two ingredients are stannous fluoride and zinc. It comes in a paste or gel and in different formulas depending on your personal preference. One formulation includes a combination of a paste and a gel (Fresh Mint Stripe). The formulas include: Whitening, Clean Mint, Advanced Whitening, Advanced Fresh + Whitening and Fresh Mint Stripe. All of these formulas work in the same effective way against bacteria on all areas of the mouth including gums, cheeks and tongue.
This product will address more than just tartar formation. Colgate Total products fight against decay with the inclusion of stannous fluoride. The inclusion of this ingredient will also give you superior sensitivity protection. I see more patients getting relief from this product for sensitivity than I do from toothpastes specifically designed for sensitivity. Please see a related article that discusses the best toothpastes for sensitivity and how stannous fluoride helps treat this common issue.
How Do Tartar Control Toothpastes Work?
The tartar formation process includes the formation of calcium phosphate in your mouth. This is a compound created by the combination of calcium in your saliva, acids given off by bacteria and oxygen.
Tartar control toothpastes contain a chemical called sodium pyrophosphate or sodium hexametaphosphate. These ingredients are forms of phosphate that when mixed with calcium phosphate in your mouth will become soluble.
A chemical bonding process occurs when these forms of sodium phosphate are applied during brushing. Any calcium phosphate in your mouth will be attracted to these ingredients and form a new compound. When this new compound is mixed with water, it will be dissolved and then able to be rinsed away. This will help prevent any new formation of tartar on your teeth.
Colgate Total Control Toothpaste includes zinc and stannous fluoride in their products in addition to the tartar controlling agent. Both of these ingredients also help combat tartar forming bacteria. In addition to the already mentioned reduction in decay and sensitivity, this product uniquely works against bad breath. Zinc works to prevent smelly sulfur gases produced by bacteria. These gases are called volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). When zinc binds with the protein receptors of bacteria it helps prevent the formation of these smelly gases and effectively reduces them.
Other Ways to Prevent Tartar
There are other things you can do to prevent tartar formation. Other options include keeping bacterial plaque to an absolute minimal amount. You see, if you can keep bacterial plaque from accumulating in your mouth in the first place, you will significantly reduce your tartar formation. That is because all tartar begins with plaque formation.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice daily with an ADA approved toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth once per day. The use of an electric toothbrush has been proven to help reduce dental bacterial plaque dramatically. Oral B and Sonicare are both excellent choices for electric toothbrushes. Read this article if you need help to decide which one is right for you. You can further reduce the plaque between your teeth by using floss or an interdental brush.
If you are one of the many people who are not a fan of flossing, no worries. Waterpik has an option for you that has been successfully helping people like yourself. They have a full line of waterflossers designed to remove twice as much bacterial plaque as flossing can. They now have an innovative product that combines the excellent plaque removal of a sonic toothbrush with a waterflosser. This is a convenient product that brushes and flosses your teeth at the same time with one product. It is called the Waterpik Sonic-Fusion.
Another great way to help with tartar formation is to change the bacteria in your mouth. Within the mouth there is a careful balance of good and bad bacteria. This is called the oral microbiome. The American Society of Microbiology states: “Microorganisms from the oral cavity have been shown to cause a number of oral infectious diseases, including caries (tooth decay), periodontitis (gum disease), endodontic (root canal) infections, alveolar osteitis (dry socket), and tonsillitis. Evidence is accumulating which links oral bacteria to a number of systemic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, preterm birth, diabetes, and pneumonia.” You can learn more about keeping your microbiome in check with the use of oral probiotics.
Don’t forget to clean your tongue. Learn what a healthy tongue looks like. Numerous destructive bacteria love to hang out on the surface of the tongue. This may be a place you forget about when performing your oral home care routine. You can brush the top surface of your tongue with your toothbrush. To achieve the best results, I would recommend using a tool specifically designed for your tongue called a tongue cleaner. A good device is the Orabrush tongue cleaner. This is a small hand held tool with a brush on one side to loosen debris and bacterial plaque. On the other side is a rigid plastic blade for scraping it away.
Less Tartar Equals Better Dental Checkups!
Your dental hygienist will be the second person to notice once you start using Colgate Total Tartar Control Toothpaste. You will be the first person. This is truly the best tartar control toothpaste. This product leaves you with an all over clean mouth which other tartar control toothpastes do not provide. The combination of ingredients in this toothpaste is what sets it apart from its tartar control competitors. The reduction of tartar leads to healthy gums, less decay and fresher breath.
During your cleaning, you and your hygienist will notice a significant reduction of scratching and scraping on your teeth. I can always tell when a patient has started using this product because the time it takes to clean their teeth is dramatically reduced. There is also a direct correlation to the health of the gums of patients who start using this product. Less inflammation equals less bleeding and much healthier gums. Who doesn’t want a better checkup? Remember to see your dental professional every 6 months for an exam and cleaning. This is important for optimal health of your teeth and gums. Please leave your comments and questions and I would be happy to help.
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